Fremantle overcame the early loss of star defender Michael Johnson and a bout of the goalkicking wobbles to post a 40-point win over Adelaide in Sunday’s AFL clash at Patersons Stadium.
Johnson limped off in the second quarter after injuring his right leg while laying a tackle in the 12.18 (90) to 7.8 (50) win in front of 35,389 fans.
Adelaide led by two points at halftime, and Johnson’s absence should have opened the door for the Crows’ powerful forward line to wreak major damage.
Instead, it was Fremantle’s runners who clicked into top gear as the Dockers unleashed a powerful second half to cruise to victory.
Ruckman Aaron Sandilands and defender Lee Spurr battled it out for best afield honours, while Nat Fyfe, David Mundy, Stephen Hill and Ryan Crowley were also crucial in the win.
Sandilands (20 possessions, 38 hit-outs) was a powerhouse in the ruck, while Spurr tallied 32 disposals in a supreme shutdown job on Eddie Betts.
Tagger Crowley restricted Adelaide’s Patrick Dangerfield to just 18 possessions and a goal.
The win lifted Fremantle (7-4) into fifth spot, while the 10th-placed Crows (5-6) face a battle to secure a finals berth.
The Dockers were left battered and bruised in the opening term, with Hayden Ballantyne, Luke McPharlin and Chris Mayne copping painful knocks.
All three were able to recover, but Adelaide went to quarter time with a deserved 10-point lead on the back of Scott Thompson’s midfield brilliance and some handy work up forward from Dangerfield.
Fremantle’s goalkicking was shoddy in the first quarter, and not much changed in the second as Zac Clarke, Matthew Pavlich and Tendai Mzungu all missed gettable shots.
The Dockers had 2.9 to their name before Fyfe kicked truly from 40m midway through the quarter.
But just as the tide seemed to be turning Fremantle’s way, Adelaide regained their mojo to dominate the final 10 minutes of the half.
Fourth gamer Charlie Cameron was proving to be a handful, with the goalsneak booting three goals in the opening half to give his side a two-point edge at the long break.
The Dockers won the possession count 219-169 and the hit-outs 21-5 in the first half, but Adelaide dominated the important inside-50s 32-19.
Although Fremantle shot to the lead early in the third quarter, their wayward goalkicking meant the Crows were still within striking distance.
That was until the man with the wonkiest kick in the competition set the Dockers straight.
Defender Zac Dawson surprised even himself when he found some space in the attacking 50m to take a mark.
The Crowd were even more surprised when he nailed his 47m set shot to set the Dockers on the path to victory.